Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

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Phaing
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Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 08 Sep 2017 05:45

The frustration is mine. I am sure the information is out there, somewhere, but ever since Goolge went loopy it isn't fun plugging away anymore.

Wiki "reliably" :roll: informs me that there were 126 Armored Cars with the Italians in East Africa in 1940... but that just does not compute. My own guesswork leads me to believe that there would have had to be 60 x Lancias, 30 x Fiat 611s and 36 x AB-40 to make up those numbers. That is a huge proportion of the production runs for each type, and my gut tells me that none of the AB-40 would have made it to Eritrea by June of 1940.

But, maybe I am wrong about that last thing, 24 out of 100 of the M11/39 were there, and that would seem like an even longer stretch, so...

But honestly, does anyone know what qualified as an armored car in that theater? The German Company is supposed to have improvised a few, maybe the Colonial Police did the same thing.
Maybe somebody bolted iron plates to a truck-mounted 75mm AA gun, and called it good?

There does not seem to be much interest in that whole theater, thus the frustration, I suppose.
Maybe I did it wrong, but a search here lead to a page of references that didn't have anything much to do with the place itself.

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby jwsleser » 10 Sep 2017 14:09

Phaing

Le operzioni in Africa orientale (the Italian official history) states "126 autoblindo (o autocarri attrezzati con appositi scudi)" (tomo 1, page 38). Basically '126 armored cars (or lorries equipped with special shields)'. IBWs field conversions of trucks in theater.

I will look in Gli autoveicoli da combattimento dell'Esercito italiano to see how many actual armored cars were present. I know there were a number Lancia lZm in the A.O.I.

Pista! Jeff
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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 11 Sep 2017 03:53

jwsleser wrote:...
I will look in Gli autoveicoli da combattimento dell'Esercito italiano to see how many actual armored cars were present. I know there were a number Lancia lZm in the A.O.I.

Pista! Jeff


Thanks, this theater is so obscure... more so than it ought to be.
They made a stronger stand than MacArthur did in the Philippines, that much is certain.

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby jwsleser » 11 Sep 2017 16:50

Phaing

I have scanned Gli autoveicoli da combattimento dell'Esercito italiano tomo 1 to see what I could find.

Lancia lZm - Definitely 13 in theater in 1940. This is based on the license numbers and where they were assigned. 32 vehicles were used during the Ethiopian War. I don't know if all those vehicles remained in theater, or whether some were withdrawn and sent to Spain. I assume that any vehicles left in the A.O.I. would have had their license numbers transferred to the A.O.I., so likely the additional vehicles were withdrawn.

The 13 vehicles were organized as the 1a Squadriglia Speciale autoblindo "S" with 3 sections of 4 vehicles and one in reserve.

Fiat 611. 11 in theater organized as the 2a Squadriglia Speciale autoblindo "S". Two sections of 5 vehicles and one in reserve.

That is all I have found.

Pista! Jeff
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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 11 Sep 2017 21:08

jwsleser wrote:That is all I have found.

Pista! Jeff


Thanks :D , that was more than I had.

At most, 43 out of 126 accounted for... wow.
The extra Lancia could have been put in mothballs in-theater, they had over 100 aircraft just sitting around in reserve, and 2/3rds were not airworthy, maybe the same thing in this case.

Still, that is an awful lot of home-brews, 83 of them, and the 611 was so slow; 17 mph according to my information. Mobile strongpoints is about all they were.

I'll keep plugging away, and post what I find here.

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 14 Sep 2017 06:15

I don't know how reliable it is, but this source says all of the AB-35 or 611-type were sent to East Africa -
http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/i ... AB-611.php

The bulk must have been in storage. This helps, but only a little. All but the 5 with 37mm guns would have to be set aside for internal security, and probably those too since they are just so slow. The other possibility is taking them along on a landing, at Aden.

All that I am trying to establish is that there were 60 armored cars that could be given to the Colonial units, 30 for internal security, and 3-dozen good enough to work with the regular army as real scout vehicles.
The hard part is finding anything about all the improvisations, and if they were the better machines...

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby jwsleser » 14 Sep 2017 16:04

Thanks. I will take a look to see if my sources agree.

Pista! jeff
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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 23 Sep 2017 17:17

jwsleser wrote:Thanks. I will take a look to see if my sources agree.

Pista! jeff


I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of the "Armored cars" there would have been the expedient kind... probably trucks with a semi-armored cab and a MG or cannon platform on the back. At Kufra in the spring of 1941, a few trucks with 20mm cannon did a good job of holding off Le Clerc's first few attempts to take that place.
However, one source is telling me that the Italian Army in IEO only had 24 x 20mm guns, and there were only enough 37mm guns to defend Massawa Harbor.

I also need to buy a good book on this Theater, probably at Amazon, can you recommend any?

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Varadero » 06 Jan 2018 11:39

Some pictures from Italian armour in Afrika during 1939-1940. From ebay.
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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby diciassette2000 » 09 Jan 2018 19:30

At war start
Riserva Generale Addis Abeba and Dessiè with:
-321.a and 322.a Compagnia carri M11 (4 platoon each- 16 M11 each)
-1.a and 2.a compagnia carri L (??? L3 each)
Comando Truppe Scioa with:
-Squadrone carri veloci “Cavalieri di Neghelli” (15xL3)
-Reparto Autocarri armati PAI (some armaured trucks armed with MG)
Comando Truppe HARAR with:
-Sezione Autonoma autoblindo Fiat 611 – (5x37mm Fiat611)
-Seziona Autonoma autoblindo Lancia IZ – (4xLanciaIZ)
Comando Truppe Galla-Sidamo with:
-Sezione Autoblindo Lancia del Galla Sidamo (Gimma)(3xLanciaIZ)
-Sezione Autoblindo Fiat 611 del Galla Sidamo (Javello)(3xFiat611mg)
-Compagnia autocarri armati del Galla Sidamo (Gimma)(some armoured trucks with MG)
-Sezione autocarri armati (Uolisciò) (4xarmoured trucks)
Comando Truppe Amhara with:
-Reparto provvisorio autoblindo (Debrivar)(some LanciaIZ)
-Sezione autoblindo Lancia (6xLanciaIZ)(Debra Marcos-Goggiam)

After the war start
Compagnia Carri Armati dell’ Amhara (Gondar)(367 mans and 34 armoured trucks)

All the best
maurizio

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 12 Jan 2018 03:59

diciassette2000 wrote:
All the best
maurizio


Thank you!! :D
The locations were particularly interesting

That adds up to just over 60, about half of what Wiki says they had in Armored Cars. Just as I thought, there must have been a lot of home-made clunkers but some of those must have been flat-bed trucks with 20mm guns on them, as there were in Libya.

I think that a lot of the excess must have been Lancias scattered around, perhaps given to Colonial units or local Princes friendly to the Italians?
There also must have been a lot in reserve, they sure had a lot of aircraft stored away in East Africa, most of them ending up as the main source of spare parts.
Perhaps there was something similar for the Lancia and Fiats?
There MUST have been more Lancia, unless those excellent pics you posted ( :thumbsup: ) show 1/3rd of the total they had!

Also very interesting; the L3 with the number 19 on it. Companies only went up to 15, so that must mean that the L3s were organized as a Battalion, at some point... right?

BTW- how do you post pics here? I have some good ones I would like to share, including a pic of an L5 with a 45mm Brixia mortar mounted on the roof.

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby Phaing » 12 Jan 2018 04:20

Also;
Could there have been some Fiat 3000 light tanks left there, and lumped in with the "Armored Car" designation?

Last thing; why was the 611 so damned slow? When I saw that the top speed was 17mph, I thought it was a typo, but other sources confirm it.
It makes no sense...

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby diciassette2000 » 12 Jan 2018 11:45

No operative Fiat 3000 at war start.......The Lancia 611 was a old type very very low speed............in AOI only coys of tanks never battalions......The Regio Esercito in AOI were poor of all...the war here was fought with very very obsolete armament and also in little quantity.
All the best
Maurizio

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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby jwsleser » 12 Jan 2018 14:43

Maurizio

What is the source for your information. Not stating it is incorrect (it looks very good), but would like to know so I can cite it.

Phaing

Why do you believe that there are more armored cars in the A.O.I.? The data that both Maurizio and I have provided match. Maurizio's list accounts for all 13 Lanicas the USSME state were in country, while Maurizio only accounts for 8 of the 11 Fiats. There is nothing provided that indicate a greater number that that.

The Tank Encyclopedia article you linked is using one source, the Italian Wiki page. I have read the page and it doesn't state that all the vehicles were sent to A.O.I. The Wiki page cites the same two sources that the article cites (the Vannucci and Pignato books) that the author lists in his bibliography, so I am unsure whether the author of the Tanks entry actually read those books. I believe he used the Wiki article and just added the article cites (no page numbers from the books are given to support his statements).

All sources are very clear that there were a large number of homemade armored vehicles of various armor and weapons. As the Italians didn't document these vehicles, it is unlikely we will every be able to account for everyone and what they were armed with. Unless an authoritative source is found (or someone has the two books mentioned and can check to see what they actually state), it appears the 13 Lancias and 11 Fiats are the correct numbers.

Pista Jeff
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Re: Italian East Africa vehicles... & frustration

Postby diciassette2000 » 12 Jan 2018 15:37

Armellini-Diario di Guerra-Garzanti-Milano-1946
Ballari-Eritrea 1941-Volpe-Roma-1973
Bongiovanni-La fine dell'Impero-Mursia-Milano-1974
Bruttini-Puglisi-L'Impero Tradito -La Fenice-Firenze-1957
Canevari-La guerra italiana-I retroscena di una disfatta-Tosi-Roma-1949
Carnimeo-Cheren-Casella-Napoli-1950 (ristampa 1982)
Del Boca-La Caduta dell'Impero-Laterza-Bari-1982
Dell'Uomo-La divisione di fanteria "Africa" in Memorie storiche 1977 SME-Roma 1977
Gazzera -Guerra senza speranza-Regionale-Roma-1952
Ministero Africa Italiana-La costruzione dell'Impero-Mondadori-Milano-1940
Pesenti-Fronte Kenya-Bertello-Borgo San Dalmazzo-1952
Rocco -Difesa di Cassala e combattimento di Uaccai-Rivista Militare 1949
Valletti-Amba Alagi-Roma 1962
Rovighi-Le Operazioni in Africa Orientale-SME-Roma-1988
Tocci-Note Storiche sui mezzi corazzati in AOI in Memorie storiche 1994 SME-Roma 1994

All the best
Maurizio


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